Sunday, May 31, 2015


Encore     2015     oil on canvas     24" x 24"

On Friday, I had the great pleasure of seeing Christina Weaver and Taylor Woolwine's final exhibitions as this year's Manifest Artists in Residence. They are both incredibly talented painters, and it was wonderful seeing their work in person again. Congratulations to you both!

Cincinnati is such a lovely city. I always enjoy spending time here.

In other news, I just found out that this drawing was juried into the upcoming Drawing exhibition at ARC Gallery in Chicago! Keep an eye on my website later this week for details. 

"Shadow" 2013 graphite on paper 22x30"

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Notes on Beauty, Continued

Another brief excerpt from Crispin Sartwell's Six Names of Beauty, this time from the final chapter on "hozho" (Navajo for health, harmony):

"The human experience of the world as beautiful would not be possible without the condition of mortality, ours and its. Or we might say in the most general terms that beauty is made possible by temporality, as loss is made inevitable by it. Loss, we might say, is an experience of the asymmetry of time, its Coyote suddenness and torpor, its imbalances and gaps, both the world's evil and the source of its goodness, its need...

To lose and merge into the world simultaneously is both our desire and fear, both omnipotence and death, truth and emptiness." (p. 150-151)

This book has been even more insightful the second time around. Beauty can be a difficult thing to discuss in contemporary art; certainly "pretty" is used most often as a derogatory adjective for painting. I am not interested in making merely beautiful paintings, although sometimes that seems to happen in spite of my art school training. Yet, it would be pointless to deny my appreciation for the beautiful and the well-crafted. There has to be a place in the art world for well-made, aesthetically pleasing paintings that are not exercises, that have at least as much content (or possibly more) than zombie formalism and the like. 

Maybe it isn't the painter's job to ask these questions; perhaps it's enough just to make the thing, and best to leave the theory to the critics. Still, as I recently finished one body of work and am in the midst of starting something new, this is what I find stumbling around the recesses of my dusty brain.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Warm Thoughts on Perception

I've been re-reading Crispin Sartwell's Six Names of Beauty this week... it's a thoughtful and insightful treatise on the nature of the beautiful, and it should be required reading for all artists. In the chapter on "Sundara" (the Sanskrit word for beauty which translates more closely to "holiness"), Sartwell writes the following on perception:

"The alchemist Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (usually referred to as Paracelsus) wrote this: 

'The inner stars of man are, in their properties, kind, and nature, by their course and position, like the outer stars... For as regards their nature, it is the same in the ether and in the microcosm, man... Just as the sun shines though a glass - as though divested of body and substance - so the stars penetrate one another in the body... For the sun and the moon and all planets, as well as all the stars and the whole chaos, are in man.' 

This is, in general, conceived to be a 'magical' (prescientific, superstitious) view of the world. And so it is. But it also can be a read as a simple though poetic account of perception, saying that to see or hear something is to be penetrated by it, to let a piece of it into yourself through the medium of light or sound. It asserts a joining of ourselves and our universe through perception and hence an elaborate and continual complicating of the human self and human possibilities." (p.68-9)

That is one of my favorite passages. The search for visual harmony is always spiritually and emotionally enlightening. There is a certain satisfaction in being able to replicate reality, in having the necessary skills to create a convincing depiction of space. But the real growth, for me, as a perceptual painter, is not in mere depiction but in the transformation that occurs as a result: "to let a piece of [the perceived] into yourself." That is what I find so compelling about Morandi, and why I am constantly drawn to the mundane for subject matter - there is so much to see and so much potential to be transformed by it.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Studio, May

There is nothing like a clean palette and an organized painting table...

Well, it's that time of year again... and I have to say, this year's Torrit Grey is particularly gorgeous. It was a nice excuse to pick up a few of my favorite Gamblin colors. I also stocked up on a few old favorites (can't live without King's Blue), and I'm excited to experiment with a new color as well. Old Holland Flesh Ochre is a lovely new find - honestly, any color that's in the Venetian Red family has automatically won my heart. 

... playing with new color combinations and recipes... 

Outlet     2015     oil on canvas     10x10"     private collection